With locals Hirsch and Foehl on roster, Williams College men's soccer draws with Bowdoin

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CAROLINE BONNIVIER SNYDER — THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE
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WILLIAMSTOWN — On Senior Day, Williams College men's soccer player Eric Hirsch took a second to reflect on his journey up Route 7 from Mount Greylock High School to Cole Field.

"It goes by really fast," said Hirsch, who graduates in June. "It's sort of been a life-long dream to play on this field, so it's kind of surreal and playing our second-to-last guaranteed game on this field. It definitely means a lot."

Hirsch did not get on the score sheet, but he and the Ephs parlayed a second-half goal by Chris Fleischer into a 1-1 draw with Bowdoin Sunday afternoon. Williams (7-3-2, 3-2-2 in NESCAC) has gone 3-0-1 in its last four contests, and remain tied with the Polar Bears (7-3-2, 3-2-2) for fourth place in NESCAC.

It was a game where Bowdoin first-year goalkeeper Chris Kingston made seven saves, four in the second half as Williams took control. Kingston made two big saves in the second half, stopping Justin Adams and Greg Andreau. In the final seconds of the second overtime period, Andreau got a long ball on the doorstep of the goal, but Kingston made the save as time expired.

"Creating chances to me is like the indicator. Goals come and go," Williams coach Erin Sullivan said. "If you're not creating, that's a big problem. To be able to get the kind of looks we got today, that's a positive sign."

Hirsch and another former Mount Greylock player, Brady Foehl, are on the Williams roster. It's kind of a threesome of county players because, although center back Jules Oberg is from Stockholm, Sweden, he spent three years in Berkshire County playing at Berkshire School.

"It's always been, for me, something that I look pretty proudly at, at what soccer has become in this county through the years," said Sullivan. "I credit some of the people I was lucky enough to be associated with."

Sullivan is not only the coach at Williams, but he played goalkeeper for Williams' 1995 NCAA Division III national champions. So he's been around Williamstown, and has seen the development of soccer from the Vermont border to the Connecticut line.

"To have played here alongside a Greylock guy or two, to having seen them through the years and having a couple of them now," said Sullivan. "It's a pretty powerful thing, because Cole Field — just growing up in this area — means so much. It takes on a different meaning when those guys make the jump."

Those guys include Hirsch, who started at forward Sunday afternoon, and first-year Foehl, who is waiting his turn.

"NESCAC soccer can be a grind. If you're going against a NESCAC team, expect a battle," said Foehl, when asked what he's learned in the first two months of his college soccer career.

"I've definitely seen an improvement" in his play, Foehl said. "Practicing with these guys, you definitely get better. That's what you need as a player, to play against guys that are better than you. You work your way up, and you get better yourself."

Hirsch and Foehl are the latest Mounties to wear the Williams purple and gold. In 2012, goalkeeper Than Finan helped backstop Williams to the NCAA Division III Final Four. Finan's big game was in the Elite Eight game at Amherst, where he was outstanding on penalty kicks to help Williams advance.

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They are not the only Mounties to have made their names in NESCAC soccer circles. Nathan Majumder graduated from Greylock, went to Tufts and helped the Jumbos win NCAA Division III titles in 2014 and 2016. Tom Dils, the older son of current Greylock coach Blair Dils, played four years at Middlebury.

Tom Dils' brother Sam has scored two goals as a first-year at Hamilton of NESCAC. The Ephs travel to Hamilton on Wednesday.

Oberg might not have been born in Berkshire County, but spending three years at Berkshire School makes him an adopted son of the Berkshires. He likes the idea of being part of that group.

"I think it's a sense of [being] home in a way," said Oberg. "High school is just an hour down on Route 7. When you have the possibility, you look up from the field and see the mountains, there's definitely a sense of home for me, in the U.S., at least. Being at Berkshire School for three years and then to come up here, you have the proximity of friends and people I can call brothers."

Foehl is biding his time with a large number of midfielders and forwards ahead of him. Hirsch did not see the field as a first-year player, but made three starts in 12 games as a sophomore. Last year, the former Mountie three-sport athlete played in 16 games, started five and had one goal. He has started three of the last four games this year, but is still looking for his first goal.

But Oberg has started the last seven games for Williams. The first-year is playing the center back position, a key post in Sullivan's defense.

"I think the team has been very supportive of me being a center back," Oberg said. "When I'm on the field, I'm no longer a freshman, I'm a center back."

The fact that Hirsch and Foehl come from Greylock to Williams, along with the other ex-Berkshire County players who pepper college soccer rosters throughout the Northeast does not surprise the Williams coach.

"I have always thought that when you look at some of the players that have gone on in this league and what they've done, you can't underestimate some of the fight and spirit that comes from competing and being around the types of schools that are around here," Sullivan said. "I would turn a lot of credit of that toward some of the great coaches that have developed programs here that are far beyond their years. I think of some things that Coach Dils does, and it's more like a college program."

That list of coaches includes former Berkshire School coach Jon Moodey and his current staff that runs the Black Rock FC program, a program where Oberg got some experience when school wasn't in session.

For his part, Hirsch said he's happy to not be the current end of the line when it comes moving up the soccer ladder from John T. Allen Field to Cole Field.

"It's nice to be able to hand off the torch to another Williamstown kid," Hirsch said. "Obviously, I've known Brady forever and I've played with him before.

"It's awesome to have him as a teammate again."

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.


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